Bangalore, July 4 IANS | 6 months ago

Karnataka Friday sought the central government's support in increasing its iron ore production to meet the needs of the steel plants in the state.

"I have urged the union ministry of mines to plead our case in the Supreme Court to raise the cap on production of iron ore to 40 million tonnes from 30 million tonnes per annum, a limit the apex court ordered last year," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters after discussing the issue with union Mines and Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar here.

The state government had petitioned the apex court to raise the production limit by an additional 10 million tonnes per annum in view of the shortage of iron ore faced by the steel industry in the state.

The apex court April 18, 2013 permitted the state government to re-open category A and B mines in the state with a production cap of 30 million tonnes of iron ore.

Mining of iron ore and other minerals was banned across the state in 2010-11 following the unearthing of a multi-crore mining scam in the state, leading to the resignation of then chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in July 2011 on graft charges.

"As many mining firms are waiting for renewal of their leases, we have asked Tomar to secure the approval of the union ministry of environment and forests to resume mining in existing and new areas across the mineral-rich districts of the state," Siddaramaiah said.

Responding to the state's appeal, Tomar said his ministry would soon clear the pending applications for mining to enable the steel units achieve the production target for this fiscal (2014-15).

"We had a fruitful discussion with the state chief minister and his officials. We will sort out the issues amicably," he said.

The state government also discussed the taking over of 140 acres of land and assets of Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd (KIOCL) in Chikmagalur district, after the central public sector enterprise stopped mining from 2006 following the Supreme Court order to protect the ecology in the rich bio-diverse Western Ghats.

The chief minister also sought mineral concessions to steel manufacturers in the state under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 2010 and urged the mines ministry to continue with the auctioning of mineral blocks with safeguards as provided in the act.

(Posted on 04-07-2014)

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